pregnancy

Three parents IVF has been declared safe.

She could have dark brown eyes and deep chocolatey skin.

She could have blue eyes and wispy red hair.

It could be a boy or a girl. It could be born into a family with strong religious beliefs, or none at all.

It will be a baby loved, cherished, much wanted just like millions of other babies born throughout the world.

But this baby will be different.

This baby will have, technically, two mums and one father and he or she could be born within the next year after three parent IVF babies have been declared safe by scientists in the UK.

The cutting-edge study involved over 500 eggs from more than sixty donors. Image via iStock.

The controversial method to make a baby from three parents using in-vitro fertilization was studied by scientists at Newcastle University. They successfully tested their mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) method in healthy human embryos for the first time with a new technique called “early pronuclear transfer.”

The cutting-edge study involved over 500 eggs from more than 60 donors and its results were published in the Nature scientific journal.

By removing the faulty DNA, scientists have found they can reduce the chance of babies having mitochondrial diseases that are passed through the maternal line spreading from mother to child.

Mitochondrial diseases are rare but serious conditions which tend to emerge in childhood and can sometimes prove fatal before adulthood.

In the UK, the law was changed last year to allow the technique to be used and now that it has been deemed safe enough human trials could start in the next year.

MRT swaps out defective mitochondria passed down from mother to child with healthy versions from another female donor. The three-parent baby inherits most of its DNA and traits from the mother and father, with the third person supplying only 0.2 per cent of the baby’s genes.

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But despite declarations of it being a success, scientists said there was a risk of up to four per cent of mutated, disease-causing DNA carrying over.

Tests on a number of embryos showed that in one case the DNA grew to illness-inducing levels over a period of time.

Newcastle University’s Professor Mary Herbert told The Telegraph: “We don’t know what it means for development, but it’s alerted us to the fact that we really need to work hard to get as close to zero carry-over as we can.”

“It sounds a note of caution for us,” she said.

Nevertheless, the scientists said there were positive signs that birth defects and issues that may cause miscarriage were not detected in the testing.

Clare Exton. Screengrab via BBC.

One prospective mother, Clare Exton, a 36-year-old British woman, knows that she carries the faulty mitochondria. Clare, who is partially deaf and wears hearing aids due to the faulty mitochondria told the BBC the progress was exciting.

"Everyone wants to have a healthy child, but how my mum suffered it makes me even more determined that any baby I have is not affected by this terrible disorder.

"Knowing that the treatment would prevent the condition passing down future generations would be wonderful."

There have been clear benefits for parents as well as the greater community. Via IStock.

In a piece on the procedure last year, Anna Jarmolowicz from the Murdoch Children’s Institute explained that critics say that it will cause problems with “parentage” and “identity issues for the child because they will, biologically, have three parents.”

“It is important to remember that the child will resemble the parents from who it received the nuclear DNA (mitochondrial DNA only codes for energy production),” she said.

In fact, the women who donate their mitochondria would actually remain anonymous and have no rights over the child.

Ms Jarmolowicz says it will create a “slippery slope” to many other genetic modifications is nonsense.

“VF and PGD have been used for many years to enable options for couples in the face of infertility and serious genetic disorders and have been legally and ethically regulated."

She says there have been "clear benefits for parents" as well as the greater community.

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